Film Club: Halloween Edition – Round 1

One of the best parts about scary movies is that not only do they get their own holiday, where it feels almost mandatory to watch them, they benefit by the fact that unlike, say, Christmas films, scary movies have the ability to be watched any day of the year without feeling out of place.

So focusing on that one mandatory day of the year, we here at Inside Pulse Movies decided to start off our Film Club, a feature that will see just how well classic films hold up both in general, and when compared to more recent films, by pitting some of the biggest and best horror films against one another to see who reigns supreme as the one film that should be watched every year on October 31st. Considering the holiday has just passed, we thought it’d be appropriate to look back every week this month and have a tournament of sorts to sort out the good, bad and ugly of the horror genre.

We found ourselves with some major clashes right off the start, and some of us quickly realized just how hard things were going to get in the later rounds with how tough some choices were in round one. Our first bout saw two classics squaring off in the battle of Bruce Campbell Vs. The Devil, which may one day become a movie itself. So who came out on top? Let’s go to the judges…

Mike Noyes “My view of The Exorcist is slightly skewed because the first time I saw it was with my friend who thinks its the funniest film ever made, laughing at this film took a little away from the over all effect of the film. However, the first time I saw Evil Dead 2, I laughed and cringed in exactly the way I was meant to and I still do to this day. ED2 wins this match hands down.”

Not so fast Mike, it looks like someone here may disagree with you just a tad.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz – “The Exorcist is a classic, while Evil Dead 2 is a perfunctory sequel book ended by a brilliant third film and a brilliant first film.”

Ouch, there’s a quick right hand that knocks ED2 back a step or two. But wait, it looks like Bruce Campbell has more power over IP Movies lead female reporter than the devil…

Jenny Rushing Alme – Evil Dead 2. I’ve never liked The Exorcist, maybe because I saw it when I was older. Everyone I know who loves that movie saw it when they were a kid and was scared silly. Now it just looks so corny. There was a short film at Fantastic Fest called Deus Irae that did the exorcist movie in the best way I’ve ever seen it done. Evil Dead 2 is just so super fun. And it’s got Bruce Campbell, so automatic win.”

Well, I guess that does it. Bruce Campbell has prevailed, and…wait, the power of Christ compels this match to continue; well, the power of the newest addition to IP Movies, Branden Chowen does at least…

Branden Chowen – The Exorcist. Why? I asked on my twitter feed just a couple days ago if anyone thought there could ever be a horror movie that has as much immediate impact as The Exorcist in terms of how scary it was hyped up to be by the people that saw the film. I never got a response, and I think that is because the answer is “absolutely not”. I have heard the stories of women fainting, and people running out of the theatre because of how new, exciting, and terrifying this film was upon its release. This alone would be enough to cement The Exorcist atop a battle of horror movies, but The Exorcist is also just an excellent film. It still holds up today as a creepy flick, even for someone like me who is as non-theistic as they come. The stark contrast between the girl’s innocence in the first part of the movie, to her pure evilness in the second is extremely effective. This is a horror movie classic that is able to grab viewers of just about any genre and not let them go.”

And Josh Begley from out of nowhere for the knockout!

Josh Begley – The Exorcist because, as fun as Evil Dead 2 was, it never made me stay up all night wondering about each creak and groan of the house settling.”

When the dust settled, and all the votes were tabulated, including the ones above, The Exorcist possessed Sam Raimi’s classic, to which The Evil Dead 2 quickly responded by jumping out of a window.

In our next bout, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a film that caused people to become nauseated while watching it back in the day, steps into the ring with the film that revitalized the slasher genre, and started a whole new wave of modernized horror. Knife wielding maniac against chainsaw wielding maniac, and the bell sounds!

Robert Saucedo – While it may seem blasphemous for me, a Texan, to pick Scream over Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I have to go with Wes Craven’s slasher flick. Scream hit me at just the right time during my childhood. It was the first horror movie I obsessed over — watching it at least a dozen times its first year on home video. Smart, funny and with a great soundtrack, Scream barely inches over Massacre.”

Is there anyone who disagrees with the perfectly pitched reasoning of Robert?

Branden Chowen –Scream. Why? This is a real tough one because I appreciate and love both movies just about equally. But, there is something to be said about nostalgia. I’ve only seen TCM since the remake back in 2005, but I was running to the theatres to watch the Scream series since I was a little boy. I still own my Scream Halloween costume and even ended up wearing it last Halloween! The horror movie that knows it is a horror movie sparked a return to the slasher flick, and there is too much to love about it to list. Main reason Scream gets the win, though, is nostalgia.”

Well, I asked if anyone disagreed, but I guess that continues the trend of good reasoning for voting the way you did. Anyone for Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

Jenny Rushing Alme – “Scream. I’ve never been a fan of TCM either. I think it’s highly overrated. I like Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses better. Scream scared the living [stuff] out of me. It was the first actual horror movie I ever saw in theaters and I was scared for months. Now I love it!”

I’m noticing a trend here, but let’s hear it for Texas Chai–

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz “Scream. A great spoof of the genre while also being a great genre film.”

Wait, who’s that in the back? Yes, you what? Well of course then, speak on up!

Mike Noyes – The is the most unfair match of the bunch. Texas Chainsaw is, hands down, the greatest Horror film ever made. It’s raw, it’s creepy, it’s everything you could want in a horror film. And Scream… well… Scream is pretty fun too.”

Yes Mike, quite an unfair match indeed. Unfortunately, as you can see above, Ghostface called Leatherface up and asked him what his favourite scary movie was, and he replied Scream.

Our next match sees the king of nightmares and his famous striped shirt, battling it out with Matthew McConaughey and his lack thereof. Can McConaughey do what few others have done with the help of director Bill Paxton? Let’s find out…

Josh Begley – “I’m basing this one more on cultural impact than pure quality. Frailty is an excellent movie, but Freddie is iconic, practically an archetype.”

Fair point Josh, but some would say the same thing about Matthew McConaughey shirtless.

Robert Saucedo – “I’ll make up for my past transgression by picking Texas-made movie Frailty in this category. I love stories that deal with the supernatural — specifically heaven and hell. The ambiguity of the story’s subject matter combined with the great performance (and direction) of Bill Paxton make this the winner.”

And a right hook by Saucedo pulls Freddy into the real world for the rest of this bout!

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz – “Frailtly. It’s a great psychological thriller that doesn’t need blood & guts to be scary.”

Ouch, another quick jab! Someone better come to Nightmare’s defence, and quick, or this one may be over!

Jenny Rushing Alme – “Nightmare on Elm Street. Freddy is one of my favorite horror icons of all time. I’ve had dreams about him. In them, he chases after me and I run for awhile. Then I turn around and ask why he’s so mad. He tells me that he’s just sad and lonely, so I usually end up a) being his friend or b) hooking him up with someone. One time I set him up with my college roommate and went on a double date with them. He had a blast!”

…*ahem*

And on that note, we’ll skip the rest and go straight to the final tallies, and it looks like the love of Jenny and company weren’t enough to beat out the dream warriors, lead by Bill Paxton, who had this to say to Freddy, “Game over man. Game over!”

Next up, brutal foreign violence goes up against brutal domestic violence…

Mike Noyes – “I was forced to watch Saw and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. No one has forced me to watch High Tension yet.”

Well, that’s as good reasoning as any, as Saw takes an early lead in this battle of warped minds!

Branden Chowen –Saw. Why? High Tension is a fine film, but nothing worth writing home about. Saw, on the other hand, left me shocked, disgusted, and begging for more the first time I watched it. The acting is some of the worst in any modern horror film, but the plot, and Jigsaw’s voice, not to mention that insanely creepy doll, allowed me to overlook that terrible acting. Saw is one of my favorite series to date, but the feeling I got when I finished the first movie is one that hasn’t been replicated in any horror movie prior, or since. I’m stoked for Saw 3D this Halloween.”

It looks like Jigsaw has quite the following here at IP Movies…that or the film had such an impact on them that they fear that they’ll wake up in some sort of bizarre death contraption if they vote against it!

Jenny Rushing Alme – Ugh, so difficult! I’m going to go with Saw. I look forward to the new Saw movie every year. Last year we watched all of them, leading up to the newest theatrical release. I’m a sucker! I love them!

Any dreams about Jigsaw we should know about Jenny? I kid, I kid…we really don’t want to know.

And with that, another bout comes to a close, and this one was pretty much one-sided, as you might have noticed. You might say that Jigsaw came, SAW, and conquered.

What do our next two competitors have in common besides being two films that are filled with lots of death? Well, they’re all about family values of course. Let’s see what our judges have to say…

Mike Noyes – “Friday the 13th. Two Sisters was your run of the mill creep Korean ghost story. Friday The 13th is my favorite slasher film. And what I love is that Jason isn’t even the villain.”

That’s true Mike, which makes me also think that during the short childhood Jason did have, he probably told a lot of kids “My mom could beat your dad,” and he probably would have been right.

Jenny Rushing – “Tale of Two Sisters. I always thought it was so incredibly lame that Jason needed his mommy to kill for him. What-EVER! Tale of Two Sister will STILL creep me out. I love it.”

Oh snap! No you didn’t! Oh yes you did! Jenny Rushing Alme with a machete to the side of the head of Friday the 13th.

Robert Saucedo – “One of the original slashers, Friday the 13th is pure camp fun at this point. Not so much about being scared as enjoying the ride, the film is the winner if only for introducing the world to Jason Vorhees, one of the best movie villains ever.”

Very true. To quote one of our earlier winners, “Let’s face it baby, these days, you gotta have a sequel!”

Josh Begley – “I suppose I’m reversing my reasoning from my Nightmare on Elm Street pick, but A Tale of Two Sisters is just so good. It’s atmospheric, quietly intense, and genuinely scary. Jason’s fun, but his movies depend far too much on tits and blood.”

Ouch, and with that, Begley hits below the belt! There’s no DQ in these matches, so we’ll continue on; but calling out Friday the 13th like that showed some testicular fortitude!

Branden Chowen “Friday the 13th wins by default here because I haven’t seen Tale of Two Sisters. I am willing to bet, though, that Friday the 13th would win simply because of the legacy it has established for itself. To be honest, though, Friday the 13th is my least favorite of the Big Three, and I don’t find the first movie all that wonderful. There has only been about 2-3 GOOD films in the entire series, with most of them only being acceptable because of the inclusion of Jason. Man, the more I write about this film, the more I wish I would have seen Tale of Two Sisters…”

But you didn’t, and because of that it looks like Friday the 13th lives on, just as it has for so many years.

And as we enter our final few rounds we meet a bout of two recent films that both had quite an impact on those who have seen them. It’s a battle of psychological horror against a Halloween anthology.

Jenny Rushing Alme – “Another tough one! I’ll go with Trick r Treat. It’s become a classic already! Why don’t I own it??”

I’m not exactly sure Jenny, but I’d say it has to do with the fact that IP Movies has been sending me your pay for the past year.

Mike Noyes – “This one was the hardest choice for me. Both of these are great films, I enjoy them both thoroughly. But I guess if forced to choose, I pick Trick’r Treat.”

Good choice Mike, as I’m guessing you’d have a higher chance of survivability against John Cusack than against Sam!

Robert Saucedo – Is this really a contest? 1408 is an overcooked bore of a film that completely missed the point of Stephen King’s original short story. Trick r Treat, while not perfect, is one of the most fun horror movies to come around in a long, long time. Plus, I’m a sucker for anthology movies — especially ones where the stories intertwine.”

Come on Rob, tell us how you really feel about 1408, and this time, don’t hold back!

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz – “Latter was insanely brilliant in execution, former in setup. Execution always wins out in my book.”

And in the book of many of the stars of these films we’re judging as well!

Josh Begley – “This is like trying to choose a favorite child. I love 1408, but I think in terms of this list Trick’r Treat fits better. 1408 is almost more of a character piece set in a horror story–great, no doubt, but not scary in the same way as the other movies in this list. Trick’r Treat is fun, scary, and borderline campy.”

And with that, the horror anthology moves on to the next round, while John Cusack is left behind. Don’t feel bad for him though, as he’ll have the last laugh in 2012.

Next up we have the beautifully shot, and extremely brutal take on vampires attacking a sunless Alaskan town up against arguably John Carpenter’s most recognizable work. Judges?

Branden Chowen“Halloween. Why? This was a rather simple one. One, I was not a big fan of 30 Days of Night (love the graphic novel though). Two, Halloween is one of my favorite horror films of all-time (you’re about ten lines from finding out another one of my favorites). This is *the* horror movie, and *the* film that I consider required viewing for anyone getting into the genre. Michael Myers is a household name, has spawned almost a dozen remakes/sequels (the majority of which are enjoyable films) and is scary as hell! Donald Pleasance (rest in peace) is one of my favorite actors because of this series. Plenty of blood, tits, and scares. What else could you ask for in a horror movie?”

Well, it’s hard to argue points like that. Let’s see what others had to say.

Josh Begley – “Halloween. Everything about this movie is great–the acting, the writing, the creepy music John Carpenter composed. Michael Myers quiet, invincible demeanor still scares me to this day. I really do believe he’s the boogeyman.”

Yikes. While we move on to our next judge, why don’t you go check your closet Josh?

Robert Saucedo – “I have a soft spot for 30 Days of Night but there’s really no competing with Halloween. John Carpenter hit the nail on the head with the right build of tension and dread. Combine that with the most memorable horror music cue ever and you’ve got a clear winner in this category.”

30 Days of Night is stumbling around aimlessly with the beating it’s taking this round…I don’t think it can take much more!

Jenny Rushing Alme – “Halloween. 30 Days of Night was cool at first, but it really doesn’t hold up well in subsequent viewings. At least for me. Halloween is a classic and will always be. I even dug the Zombie remake.”

You “dug” the “Zombie” remake? Was that suppose to be witty repartee? Because that’s my job here, and if people start doing it better than me, even when they don’t know it, I’ll find myself out of this job; and in this economy even losing an unpaid job hurts.

All that aside, it looks like Halloween has made these vampires wish they sparkled with how unpopular they turned out. To be fair, almost any film would have likely had the same result against Mike Myers, as he’s just so damned funny. “Allow myself to introduce…myself.” Ah, that guy kills me.

Two director’s who could easily be called masters of their craft face off in the final bout of the first round, with John Carpenter seeing if he can go two for two when facing off against Frank Darabont, and his adaptation of one of Stephen King’s short stories.

Robert Saucedo – “This is probably the toughest category. I love, love, love The Thing. John Carpenter’s effects work in that film is a thing of beauty. But, and this is important, the black and white version of The Mist is a beautiful film. I’ve actually never seen the color version of the movie — I refuse to sully my perception of the film — but Darabont did some beautiful work with shadow and composition when converting this movie to black and white. Plus, that final scene with Thomas Jane in the car is absolutely heartbreaking.”

Well said, and I’ve also only seen the black and white version of The Mist; but that likely has more to do with the fact that the only TV I own is an old black and white one that I found in an alley two years ago.

Branden Chowen – “The Thing. Why? I would put The Mist up as the #1 loser of my selections, and it would have beaten any of the other movies that didn’t get my vote with ease. Problem is, when you put The Thing up against…well, anything, it is going to lose. This Thing brings a breed of horror that I had never witnessed until watching the film. It is a subtle horror that scares the shit out of me. The film premise is friggin’ brilliant because it gives the actors a ton to work with, making them all look like great actors. The opening scene seems senseless when watching the movie the first time, but upon a second viewing, it is just that much creepier. John Carpenter is a maestro of horror, and this is arguably his masterpiece.”

The back and forth of this war of words is neck and neck right now, let’s see which of these films can jump into the lead, and the next round, with the help of Josh Begley!

Josh Begley – “The Thing is a great story about paranoia, but The Mist is just an amazing look at how crazy and violent people can get if they’re scared enough. And then it ends on one of the most heartbreaking, perfect scenes in cinema history. It’s just an excellent movie all around.”

And with that, The Thing has become lost in The Mist, and will have to settle for being arguably the best film not to move on to the second round.

The fun doesn’t end here folks, as Round 2 is coming up next!

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